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How to Review Your Child Protection Policies

Whenever you have time to review your organization’s policies, put your child protection policies at the top off your list.  We have created a self-assessment checklist that you can download below or ask us about via email. Some of the components that people sometimes overlook include:

Vounteers — It’s easy to overlook the fact that your volunteers who have access to children need to be as thoroughly screened as staff.  You also need to include them in your mandatory reporter training, as most states include them in mandated reporter statutes.

When Screening Adults Is not Practical — Some published protocols recommend screening every person who might come in contact with children in your care. Some organizations can tightly control adults who access the children, but others cannot practically do so. If you take children to public areas, such as parks or entertainment venues, or sponsor competitions open to the public, for example, there simply is no way that you can screen every adult who might be present. Repairmen pose the same problem. Some groups may be able to insist that their repair crews be screened, but many of us can’t afford the luxury of insisting that a plumber willing to fix a leaky toilet on a Saturday afternoon first pass a background check.

If you find yourself in this situation, be sure that your supervision protocols are very strong. Do you have enough staff to supervise all of the children? Do you have clear rules designed to keep the group together? Are your staff and volunteers trained in how to respond to likely scenarios such as a lost child? If you cannot keep staff eyes on the adults at all times (such as a repair person), make sure that you are able to keep all of the children in sight at all times.

Interactions Between Children —  We see so many news stories about adults abusing children that it is easy to forget that, statistically, children most often suffer abuse from their peers. This abuse can take the form of bullying, either in person or on social media. Thus, our child protection policies need to include components addressing both in-person bullying and cyber-bullying. Be certain that you have policies that you can enforce and that you do enforce them.

Reporting   — Finally, be certain that you have clear avenues for your staff and volunteers to report concerns. If they don’t believe that you will take them seriously, they are not likely to come to you with marginal cases. Taking them seriously does not mean that you have to agree with them, but you do have to listen and investigate concerns that they report.

Of course, this post only scratches the surface of a good child protection policy. If you have specific questions or need help crafting your policies, let us know how we can help.

Tags

youth services law, child protection policy

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